Councilmember Brett Withers is a key player in Titans stadium project
Brett Withers ran for Metro Council in 2015 with the most hyper-local of neighborhood issues in mind: preserving historic houses, building more sidewalks and adding affordable housing.
- But as Withers nears the end of his second term, he finds himself at the epicenter of what could become the largest public project in city history.
Why it matters: Withers represents the stretch of East Nashville where the Titans are pondering the possibility of building a new stadium.
- New NFL stadiums are running in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion these days, making Withers' support vital to the approval of a new stadium.
What he's saying: So far, Withers' disposition has been supportive. But Withers tells Axios he's sympathetic to concerns from constituents angry over missed trash pickups, or parents who have to fundraise to pay for pencils and tissues at their kids' school.
- "One thing I would remind folks is we currently do have an obligation and we do pay for the stadium," Withers says. "It's not so much a new obligation as it is trying to figure out what's the best way forward."
Between the lines: Withers says the city negotiated the current Nissan Stadium lease in the late 1990s, when Nashville was not a pro sports destination, leading to contract terms favorable to the Titans.
- Under the deal, the city is responsible for regular upkeep and maintaining the stadium in a condition equal with other pro sports stadiums.
- Repair and renovation costs had been piling up in recent years. The latest estimate by the Titans put the price tag north of $1 billion.
Timeline: Withers says his understanding is the Titans would like a financing deal in place before the council term expires in September 2023.
- "I think Mayor Cooper — I've spoken to him — we're all just wary of what is that ask going to be? We don't know right now," Withers says.
What's next: Withers says the project is in the due diligence phase as leaders crunch numbers on a financing plan.
- The Titans’ plan for redevelopment around the stadium excites Withers, who ran for office in part because he was passionate about such land use issues.
- He says he's hoping to add more residential units to the riverfront as part of the project.
- Building a new stadium closer to the interstate to the east of where Nissan is located has advantages, he says. "You can manage traffic better, and you could open up the riverfront itself."
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